Belfast Telegraph

Linfield boss Jeffrey sounds cup warning

By Billy Weir

David Jeffrey has fond memories over the clutch of Irish Cup successes he has enjoyed as Linfield boss but that’s all they are.

DJ aims for another jig of delight as he sounds cup warningUp for the cup: David Jeffrey is never happier than when he has some silverware to hold onto for LinfieldDAVID Jeffrey has fond memories over the clutch of Irish Cup successes he has enjoyed as Linfield boss but that’s all they are.

As sweet as the days in the May were for the Blues boss — although his dancing left a lot to be desired — they are now consigned to the memory bank with the most important trophy always being the next one.

Linfield begin the defence of their crown this Saturday at home to Ballyclare Comrades, and with a seven-point advantage at the top of the Carling Premiership, the switch to knock-out football won’t knock Jeffrey out of his stride.

“I think the cup always comes at a good time, certainly you’ll not hear any lines trotted out this week that we’ll show them full respect or whatever, because I think you show disrespect when you have to say that,” he said.

“There will be a huge focus because at Dixon Park earlier this year we were 90 seconds from going out of the Irn-Bru Cup and I remember on the touchline thinking ‘how am I going to face the media?’ and I was trying to think of some comparison and I could only think of 1976 when Carrick beat Linfield in the Irish Cup.

“It’s a trophy we have, we’re holders, and it’s nice that we have another competition and we’ll be very, very focused for it.”

That has been Jeffrey’s mantra really since he first took over the south Belfast hot-seat in January, 1997 and has rarely looked back since.

There have been dark days too and the experience garnered from those ensure that second is not good enough.

“The one thing that I’ve learned, not that I needed to learn it, is you’re never guaranteed anything, not a thing, and in my mind you don’t ever, ever, drop your guard,” he added.

“The first time you do that, you won’t be doing this job very long.

“You enjoy (the win) for the occasion and the particular day but then it’s over and done with and if you’re not looking ahead then you won’t be looking too far.”

There was a good degree of looking back and reminiscing recently as he marked his 15th year as Blues boss but now that hoohah has subsided, it’s back to what he does best, although he is always quick to share the adulation.

“I never contemplated that I would be here this length of time,” he explained.

“Ten years as player and captain of the club and then back as assistant manager and then manager for 15 years.

“I’m now 49, so over half my life has been spent with the club, working for it and being part of it. It’s a massive privilege.

“It’s a very nice personal thing to know that I’m the longest serving manager but I’m also very clear because that is because of a lot of support and a lot of help and backing from good players, great staff and an immense family and good friends.

“If anybody thinks you can do this on your own, then they haven’t got a clue. It gets harder because we’ve raised the bar again and again.

“In our earlier days we could maybe have an indifferent season and then you had to respond but now if you lose a game it’s a crisis at Windsor Park. It’s a bit nuts.”

So, you’ve been warned Comrades, failure is not on the menu and hopefully there will be no dancing either.

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Linfield’s trip to Coleraine for the league clash on January 31, will now kick off at 8.00pm.

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